State Health Department Releases Cardiac Surgery Report

ALBANY, January 22, 2007 - The New York State Department of Health today released a comprehensive report summarizing risk factors and outcomes for pediatric patients undergoing surgery to correct congenital heart defects.

"Pediatric Congenital Cardiac Surgery in New York State 2002-2005," summarizing risk factors and outcomes for pediatric patients, shows a decrease in the statewide mortality rate since a previous study, released in 2004, that used data from 1997-1999. It provides information on risk factors associated with pediatric congenital heart surgery and lists hospital-specific mortality rates that have been risk-adjusted to account for differences in patient severity of illness.

The report reviewed 5,466 pediatric congenital cardiac surgeries at 15 New York State hospitals performing pediatric cardiac surgery on patients discharged between January 1, 2002 and December 31, 2005. The overall mortality rate for surgeries performed during this time period was 4.08 percent.

Congenital heart defects are a leading cause of death in infancy. It is estimated that one in every 125 infants suffers from a serious cardiac defect. Congenital heart defects may take many forms and represent a wide range of risk. Some simple defects, such as a small opening between heart chambers, may be consistent with good health and a normal life span. Other, more serious, defects, such as an under-developed heart chamber or valve may result in shock, or even death, in the first hours or days of life unless rapid and effective action is taken.

This is the second public release of pediatric congenital cardiac surgery in New York State. The report for 1997-1999 reviewed 4,710 congenital cardiac surgeries on patients under the age of 18. From 1997-1999, the statewide mortality rate for patients undergoing these surgeries in 16 New York hospitals was 5.35 percent. New York is the only state in the country to evaluate and release this kind of information for pediatric cardiac surgery.

The data in this report is based on the New York State Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Reporting System. This system is used to gather information on each patient's diagnoses the actual procedure performed and other clinical factors that may impact outcomes.

In addition, as part of the reporting system, hospitals have the ability to track their own data and compare their experience to statewide outcomes.

New York State has taken a leadership role in setting standards for cardiac services, monitoring outcomes, and sharing performance data with patients, hospitals, and physicians. Hospitals and doctors involved in the care of pediatric cardiac patients have worked in cooperation with the Department of Health and its Cardiac Advisory Committee to compile accurate and meaningful data for use in enhancing quality of care.

The report, as well as additional information about pediatric cardiac surgery in New York can be obtained on the Department's website at: www.health.ny.gov/diseases/cardiovascular/heart_disease/index.htm.